In D.C., it's looking increasingly like City Council Chairman Vincent Gray is going to beat Mayor Adrian Fenty in the Democratic primary. This is a shocker. Given Fenty's deep pockets, huge 2006 victory, and positive developments on crime and schooling, he was widely thought a lock for re-election when this year began. In edu-circles, the question is what this means for D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee, who's had a tempestuous three years while struggling to transform a broken system that couldn't track personnel records, open schools on time, or provide textbooks to students. When drilling through a tough surface, ...


Despite the nation's tough job market, the news is brighter for those in the education sector. In the last week or so, I've gotten word of four terrific edu-jobs--Dean of the Hunter College School of Education, a program officer with the Walton Family Foundation, a researcher focused on innovation at the Gates Foundation, and a director of research and evaluation at Teach For America (and this doesn't even include the new hiring taking place at Fordham, Bellwether, and Brookings). Check it out: Hunter College is looking for a Dean of the School of Education to fill the huge shoes that ...


My pal Andy "Eduwonk" Rotherham took the time on Tuesday to level a series of charges at me regarding Race to the Top (RTT). Having voiced his own set of concerns about RTT and called for Secretary Duncan to convene a panel to explore what went wrong, Andy would now prefer to discount all prior critiques that fail to meet his standard for gentility. I was amused to see that Andy's newfound concerns largely echo those that I'd raised six months ago but that he tried to soften them by pairing them with an attack on me for not criticizing ...


It's like a bad joke. You're interviewing candidates for an important education job and ask each about their views on using performance-based metrics to evaluate and potentially remove teachers. Who actually answers the question, much less inspires confidence that they're up to snuff? The ex-basketball player who says, "We have to elevate the status of the profession. We can't do enough to recognize great teaching. We can't do enough to shine a spotlight on success. And we have to be willing to challenge the status quo together when it's not working." The union lawyer who says, "I think the issue ...


I'm always surprised at how often teacher unions claiming to be agents of professionalism reflexively slash at measures (like responsibility for results and differentiated pay) that are part and parcel of most professions. Even so, it's not every day that you see a union savaging an effort to promote professional growth as an anti-teacher conspiracy. Welcome to Houston Independent School District, where HISD superintendent Terry Grier is being mauled by the Houston Federation of Teachers... for proposing that principals work with all of their teachers to craft professional growth plans. Yeah, I'm scratching my head too. What's got the HFT ...


Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is trailing City Council President Vincent Gray by 17% among likely voters in the city's Democratic primary. The primary will be held September 14 and, in almost entirely Democratic D.C., is tantamount to election. The WaPo results reflect survey numbers reported earlier by the Washington Examiner, and follow several weeks of straw polls suggesting trouble for Fenty. Fenty, who swept to a massive citywide victory in 2006, has held his support among D.C.'s white voters but has cratered among black voters--he's trailing Gray 64-19 among registered ...


Less than a month ago, our earnest Secretary of Education described Louisiana as "leading the way" with data systems that monitor teacher preparation programs and student performance. Louisiana has been ranked a top-ten state for teacher policy, data systems, and charter schooling by the National Council on Teacher Quality, the Data Quality Campaign, and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. (And, for what it's worth, in my new Fordham Institute study published this week, New Orleans graded out as the nation's most vibrant city when it comes to school reform.) All of this makes Louisiana's failure to win one ...


Since its inception, I've regarded Race to the Top (RTT) as an important and valuable idea, but I also spent much of last fall and winter arguing that the administration's program design was not equal to the weight it was being asked to bear (what with its murky criteria for judge selection, ambiguous scoring system, focus on promises and grant-writing rather than accomplishment, and the remarkable emphasis that Secretary Duncan placed on union "buy-in" in round one). Unfortunately, the bill has come due. I actually feel more than a little sorry for the Secretary now that his big race has ...


While I've my doubts about urging states to launch new initiatives when job one ought to be financial retrenching, I'm happy to see heavy lifts and real accomplishments recognized in places like Rhode Island, D.C., Massachusetts, and Florida. That said, in assessing a process that inexplicably left Louisiana and Colorado out of the winners circle, we need to recognize that Congress and the Department of Education conspired to create a competition that primarily rewarded states for embracing ED-endorsed best practices rather than the more mundane efforts to clear away anachronistic policies and reset the policy environment. As I wrote ...


Nope, I'm not talking about grading the Race to the Top (RTT) winners. Frankly, I don't have much confidence in the elaborate scoring system that the Department of Education jury-rigged--especially not after Ohio, Hawaii, and New York finished in the money while Louisiana and Colorado were ludicrously left out in the cold. As if my skeptical natured needed more cause for worry after the post hoc "norming" of i3 grades and the concerns raised regarding judge selection and training, blatant disregard for application guidelines, and emphasis on airy promises rather than concrete actions already taken. And, given the number of ...


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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